Driving “down” Your Driving Costs by Keeping the Climate in Mind

At ClimateMama, our car of choice is a hybrid, and we get around 42 miles to the gallon. We have test drove various electric cars and some of us are considering that option. For many of use though, we don’t have the option to update our vehicles to more fuel efficient ones in the short term. So what are some ways we can reduce our driving costs, our fuel consumption and therefore our carbon footprint without replacing our vehicles?

We are pleased to share some great ideas from Garret, on how to you can make these short term changes. Garret works at Extra Space Storage. We not only learned some great ideas from Garret, but we were also happy to learn about a company that is taking “extra” steps to be more energy efficient and “climate wise.”

Drive Down the Cost of your Driving “Skills”
By: Garret Stembridge

The last time you filled up your tank at the gas station, did you feel like your bank account was getting drained at the same time? If you did, you’re not alone since the national average for a gallon of regular gas in late 2013 is around the $3.50 mark.

Used with permission

Although you can’t do anything about the price, you have some control over how often you have to cough up the cash to refuel. In fact, the main thing driving up the cost of your driving may be you.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your gas bills, and the frequency with which you need to top off your tank. Here are some simple steps you can enact today to strengthen your skills behind the wheel and start driving down the cost of driving, as well as some other ways you can conserve energy and cash.

Plan Ahead
Two of the largest sources of waste in our cars (and our lives, really) come from rushing and waiting. Trim down the harmful impact of both by keeping these tips in mind:

• Leave 10 minutes early: Did you know that driving 60 MPH roughly translates to paying an additional $.50/gallon? According to the US Department of Energy, for every 5 MPH above 50 MPH you drive, you can expect to crank out an extra quarter per gallon. Ouch.

• Avoid peak traffic times: Whenever possible, avoid sitting in your car for lengthy periods of time, because excessive idling can consume up to half a gallon of fuel each hour. If you do find yourself stuck in traffic, turn off your AC and roll down the windows. If you must stop, turn off the car – it takes less fuel to restart than it takes to idle.

• Consolidate Outings: Plan ahead for the week and try to complete all of your shopping trips and errands in one excursion. This will conserve your time and energy as well as cut down on your car’s energy consumption.

Lose Some Weight
If we’re not careful, our vehicles can become storage units on wheels. This is absolutely the last thing you want because all of that extra weight is heavy, which means your cars have to work that much harder to pull everything along for the ride.

Dead weight means more wear and tear on the engine, more gas, more carbon emissions, and certainly more cost passed on to you.

Go through the trunk, the passenger side and the back seat and anything you don’t absolutely need to keep with you, get rid of it. And yes, your children and pets are essential cargo so don’t chuck them out during the caravan cleanse!

Embrace Being an Outsider
When you’re out shopping, instead of sitting idly behind shoppers taking their sweet time moving or driving around looking for a prime spot up front, simply pick a spot at the rear of the lot and walk it in!

Not only could we all do with a bit more exercise, but by parking farther away from the pack, you are less at risk for dents and dings from too-closely-parked cars next to you and you are less likely to get trapped behind the lollygaggers leaving the lot.

Patience Pays Off
Not only is patience a virtue, but in the realm of road travels, it is also profitable.
If you can’t avoid being stuck behind slow pokes at traffic lights, don’t gun the gas to get around them. Aggressive driving habits drive up the cost of driving exponentially so avoid speeding, rapid acceleration and braking whenever possible.

Finally, taking things slow and methodically on the road can save money, energy and lives so keep things in perspective when you’re behind the wheel.

All you need is a little initiative and you’ll start seeing the fruits of your conservation efforts everywhere you look. And small steps lead to big changes.

Committed to Corporate Responsibility

Along those lines, individuals aren’t the only ones getting in on the road to reduction. Here’s a look at two of the largest energy efficiency initiatives that Extra Space Storage has taken in an attempt to do our part on a larger business scale.

Revamped Lighting Schemes:
Not only did we swap out our energy-hogging halogen fixtures with LED fixtures (resulting in a 66% reduction in kilowatt consumption with the same lumens!), but we also embraced the “less is more” philosophy for our properties by incorporating de-lamping (using single light fixtures and lighter colored walls instead of dual-bulb fixtures) and daylighting (using the natural light of the day whenever possible instead of flipping switches).

As an EPA Energy Star partner, we at Extra Space Storage are all about embracing our efficiency empowerment: our corporate awareness campaign “Conserve: The Power is Yours” reminds our personnel that little things make a big difference.

Hybrid Company Cars
And one of those “little” things making a big difference involves replacing gas guzzling vehicles with hybrid cars. There are about half a dozen company hybrids in play at this time and they are currently being tested by some of our field managers who work in areas where they wouldn’t exceed about 40 MPH.

The 40 MPH bit is important because although we all know driving slower than 50 MPH is great for stretching your gas dollars, with hybrid cars, they need to remain under this speed in order to maintain electric motor power instead of switching over to the carbon emission-producing internal combustion engine.

Although the cost to upgrade each car to a hybrid costs between $5,000 to $7,000, if we see a substantial decrease in the cost of driving related to these test hybrids, who knows? You just might see an Extra Space Storage hybrid conservatively scooting around a city near you in the near future!

Check out our website for more specifics on our sustainability initiatives and ideas on how you can implement some of the changes yourself.

What are some of the ways you’ve curbed your individual inefficiency through driving smarter or increasing your conservation efforts?

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Orlando, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.


Wristwatch photo credit: alexkerhead via photopin cc
Dog in car photo credit: lindawoods via photopin cc

We received NO compensation for this post.

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2 Responses to Driving “down” Your Driving Costs by Keeping the Climate in Mind

  1. CelloMom says:

    Great easy-to-do tips! I would like to add: when shopping for your next car, get the model you want with the smallest engine available for it. This saves money in the purchase, and there’s still plenty under the hood. There’s a good reason US car specs don’t include maximum speeds attainable: those tend to be around 110mph or so.

    If you buy horsepower for the “safety” reason, consider one of the new turbodiesel engines. They are up to 40% more efficient than gasoline models with the same horsepower, but diesels’ high torque really pack a sweet kick. (And diesel has become much cleaner now).

    • Harriet says:

      Thanks @cellomomcars for the great advice! You are the expert and our “go to” on advice and info on buying and using our cars, how to get better fuel economy: conserve energy, reduce our use of fossil fuels, AND save money.

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